Highlights from the 2012 Senior Survey
In late March 2012, MIT invited 1,047 fourth-year undergraduates (seniors) to participate in a survey that asked them about their satisfaction with various academic and non-academic experiences, perception of how their abilities changed while at MIT, and post-graduation plans. The survey closed in early May with a 73% response rate.
MIT conducts the Senior Survey every two years. This is the sixth administration. This particular survey is being administered simultaneously at a number of peer institutions.
Available at web.mit.edu/ir/surveys/senior.html are overall frequencies for each question on the survey, along with summary charts. (See also M.I.T. Numbers in this issue for additional charts.) Following are some of the highlights.
- 88% of students reported being generally or very satisfied with their overall undergraduate education, slightly lower than in 2010. The chart below shows the results for this question by year.
- In terms of the quality of the academic experience, 92% of seniors said that they were satisfied with opportunities to participate in research with faculty, 90% were satisfied with the out-of-class availability of faculty, and 93% with the overall quality of instruction. Satisfaction with academic advising received the lowest ratings in this group of questions, with 56% reporting they are generally or very satisfied. Seniors reported higher satisfaction with the quality of advising within their majors: 69% said they were generally or very satisfied.
- 82% of seniors reported that they were generally or very satisfied with their major(s).
- When asked about the quality of campus services and facilities, 95% or more of students said that they were satisfied with athletic facilities, classrooms, library facilities and resources, and laboratory facilities and equipment. Students reported being least satisfied with food services (36% were generally or very satisfied), followed by the administration’s responsiveness to student concerns (50% were generally or very satisfied).
- When asked their level of satisfaction with various aspects of campus life, the three highest-rated categories were the level of intellectual excitement on campus (96% generally or very satisfied), the feeling of security on campus (96%), and the opportunities to participate in intramural and other recreational athletics (96%).
- The lowest-rated categories were student government (44% generally or very satisfied), the sense of community on campus (70%), and the social life on campus (81%).
Skills and Abilities
- Students were asked to evaluate how much MIT had contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in a variety of areas. They responded on a four-point scale: Very little or none, Some, Quite a bit, and Very much. This is a different scale than was used in prior years.
- The five top-rated areas were: Understanding and using quantitative reasoning; Thinking critically; Thinking analytically and logically; Understanding yourself: Abilities, interests, limitations, personality; and Ability to learn on your own.
- The five lowest-rated areas were: Reading or speaking a foreign language; Critical appreciation of art, music, literature, and drama; Placing current problems in historical/cultural/philosophical perspective; Writing clearly and effectively; and Constructively resolving interpersonal conflicts.
- 88% of seniors reported having done research with a faculty member during their time at MIT.
- 70% had an internship in the U.S. and 30% had an internship abroad.
- The most popular extracurricular activities were miscellaneous student organizations and clubs (64% reported participating), volunteer service (43%), and intramural athletics (39%). When asked if they held leadership roles in any of these extracurricular organizations, nearly half of seniors responded that they had held a leadership role in one of the many “other” student organizations or clubs.
- 75% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they were able to find a balance between academic work and extracurricular activities, up from 72% in 2010.
- 58% of seniors reported that they did not personally borrow any money to finance their undergraduate education, up from 46% in 2010.
- 37% of students indicated that paying for their education had a considerable or severe impact on their family, down from 39% in 2010.
- When asked which activities they had to pass on due to a lack of money, nearly half of the respondents said they had to forego non-paying research or internship opportunities.
- While the majority of the survey was part of a survey administered in concert with our peers, several questions at the end were MIT-specific questions and asked students about their sense of self, their aspirations, and more skills and abilities questions. A full list of these questions can be found at the end of the aforementioned overall results document.
- Students agreed most strongly with the following statements: I have friends at MIT with whom I can talk if something is bothering me; I am a capable student, at least on an equal plane with others; and I have a support network at home with whom I can talk if something is bothering me.
- The statements that received the lowest levels of agreement were: I measure success by my GPA; I measure my success by my leadership roles in extracurricular activities; and I measure my success by my ability to stand out among my peers.
- Students were asked how well their undergraduate experience prepared them to perform a variety of tasks on a scale of Very poorly to Very well. The task that received the highest ratings was: Deliver on all elements of a difficult job or project you agreed to do within the accepted time frame (67% saying More than adequately or Very well). The task with the lowest rating was Start a company (15% saying More than adequately or very well).
The Senior Survey was created and conducted by the Office of the Provost/Institutional Research. Text for this article was also provided by them. MIT is currently surveying the parents of MIT students about their perception of their child’s experience at MIT.